Rick James' Top Ten Career Highlights

February 1, 2016 would have been Rick James' 68th birthday

Rick James was born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. on February 1, 1948 in Buffalo, New York. In 1977, James signed with Gordy Records, a subsidiary of Motown Records. The following year, he released his debut album Come Get It! which sold over a two million copies. James won a Grammy and an American Music Award, and recorded four number-one hits as a solo artist: "You And I" in 1978, "Give It To Me Baby" in 1980, "Cool Blooded" in 1982, and "Loosey's Rap" featuring Roxanne Shante in 1988.

James also composed and produced hits for several artists including Teena Marie, the Mary Jane Girls, The Temptations, Eddie Murphy and Smokey Robinson. Drugs led to his career downfall, and from 1994-1996, he served two years in Folsom Prison after being convicted of assaulting and torturing two women in Los Angeles. "The King of Punk Funk" passed away August 6, 2004 at his home in Los Angeles. He died of pulmonary failure and cardiac failure after suffering from diabetes and a stroke.

Here are "Rick James' Top Ten Career Highlights."

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1978 - 'Come and Get It!' double platinum debut album

Rick James. Redferns

Rick James and the Stone City Band released their debut album, Come Get It!, on April 20, 1978 featuring the hits "You And I" and Mary Jane."  The album was certified double platinum.


Side A

  1. "Stone City Band, Hi!" - 3:30
  2. "You and I" - 8:08
  3. "Sexy Lady" - 3:52
  4. "Dream Maker" - 5:16

Side B

  1. "Be My Lady" - 4:48
  2. "Mary Jane" - 4:57
  3. "Hollywood" - 7:27
  4. "Stone City Band, Bye!" - 1:10
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1979 - 'Bustin' Out of L Seven' platinum album

Rick James. Redferns

Rick James released his second album, Bustin' Out of L Seven, on January 26, 1979. It was named after a street he grew up on in Buffalo, New York. The album was certified platinum, and featured Teena Marie as a background vocalist.


Side A

  1. "Bustin' Out (On Funk)" - 5:24
  2. "High on Your Love Suite/One Mo Hit (Of Your Love)" - 7:24
  3. "Love Interlude" - 1:57
  4. "Spacey Love" - 5:50

Side B

  1. "Cop N Blow" - 5:04
  2. "Jefferson Ball" - 7:21
  3. "Fool on the Street" - 7:20
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1979 - Produced Teena Marie's 'Wild and Peaceful' debut album

Teena Marie and Rick James. Michael Ochs Archives

Teena Marie released her debut album, Wild and Peaceful, on March 31, 1979 which was written and produced by Rick James. He was also featured on the song "I'm a Sucker for Your Love."

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1981 - 'Street Songs' triple platinum album

Rick James. Redferns

After touring with Prince as his opening act in 1980, Rick James released the best selling album of his career, Street Songs, on April 7, 1981. "Give It to Me Baby" became his second number one single, however, the album is best known for his signature song, "Super Freak." It became the basis for MC Hammer's monster hit "U Can't Touch This," and James won a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1991 as its composer. The album also contained another classic, his duet with Teena Marie, "Fire and Desire."

Street Songs spent twenty weeks at number one and was certified triple platinum.


  1.  "Give It to Me Baby" (4:08)
  2. "Ghetto Life" (4:20)
  3. "Make Love to Me" (4:48)
  4. "Mr. Policeman" (4:17)
  5. "Super Freak" (3:24)
  6. "Fire and Desire" (duet with Teena Marie) (7:17)
  7. "Call Me Up" (3:53)
  8. "Below the Funk (Pass the J)" (2:36)
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1982 - American Music Award

Rick James. WireImage

On January 25, 1982, Rick James won his first major award, the  American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Street Songs. The other nominees were Hotter than July by Stevie Wonder, The Dude by Quincy Jones, and The Gap Band III by The Gap Band.

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1982 - 'Throwin' Down' album

Rick James. Michael Ochs Archives

Rick James released his sixth album, Throwin' Down, on May 13, 1982. It featured The Temptations and Teena Marie, with additional appearances by Roy Ayers and Grace Slick from The Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship.


Side A

  1. "Dance Wit' Me" 7:16
  2. "Money Talks" 4:50
  3. "Teardrops" 4:49
  4. "Throwdown" 3:17

Side B

  1. "Standing on the Top" (with The Temptations) 3:51
  2. "Hard to Get" 4:07
  3. "Happy" (with Teena Marie) 5:29
  4. "She Blew My Mind (69 Times)" 4:11
  5. "My Love" 2:53
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1983 - 'Cold Blooded' album

Rick James. Redferns

Rick James released his seventh album, Cold Blooded, on August 5, 1983. It was the second number one album of his career and his final album to be certified gold. All of his first seven LPs were certified gold, platinum, double or triple platinum. Cold Blooded  featured the hit "Ebony Eyes," a duet with Smokey Robinson.

Also in 1983, James wrote and produced The Mary Jane Girls' self-titled gold debut album featuring the hits "Candy Man" and "All Night Long."


Side A

  1. "U Bring The Freak Out"
  2. "Cold Blooded"
  3. "Ebony Eyes (Featuring Smokey Robinson)"
  4. "1,2,3 (You, Her and Me)"

Side B

  1. "Doin' It"
  2. "New York Town"
  3. "P.I.M.P and the S.I.M.P"
  4. "Tell Me (What You Want)"
  5. "Unity"
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1985 - 'Glow' album

Rick James. Hulton Archive

Rick James released his eighth album, Glow, on May 21, 1985. The title song, along with "Super Freak," were his only songs to reach number one on the dance chart.

That same year, James wrote and produced Eddie Murphy's only hit as a singer, "Party All The Time," which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Side A

  1. "Can't Stop"
  2. "Spend the Night with Me"
  3. "Melody Make Me Dance"
  4. "Somebody (The Girl's Got)"

Side B

  1. "Glow"
  2. "Moonchild"
  3. "Sha La La La La (Come Back Home)"
  4. "Rock and Roll Control"
  5. "Glow (Reprise)"
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1988 - 'Loosey's Rap' album number one

Rick James. Echoes

Rick James hit number one on August 20, 1988 for the fourth and last time on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart with "Loosey's Rap" featuring Roxanne Shante from his Wonderful CD.

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1991- Grammy Award

Rick james. WireImage

On February 20, 1991, Rick James won his only Grammy Award as one of the composers of MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" which was based on James' hit "Super Freak." "U Can't Touch This" was voted Best Rhythm & Blues Song at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.